HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html State Looks To Oklahoma In Meth War
Pubdate: Sun, 23 Jan 2005
Source: Times Daily (Florence, AL)
Copyright: 2005 Times Daily
Author: Tom Smith
Bookmark: (Cocaine)
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


By the Numbers

Between January 1998 and August 2001, 117 labs were reported in Alabama. In 
2003, 289 meth labs were reported in the state. In 2003, the latest numbers 
available indicated:

37 percent of the nation's drug use was cocaine; 36.2 was meth.

42 percent of the nation's drug-related property crimes were attributed to 
cocaine, 29.8 percent to meth.

50 percent of the nation's drug-related violent crimes were attributed to 
cocaine, 31.6 to meth.

44.8 percent of drug use in Alabama was cocaine; 44.2 percent was meth.

65.8 percent of drug-related property crimes in Alabama were attributed to 
cocaine, 29.4 percent to meth.

70.6 percent of drug-related violent crimes in Alabama were attributed to 
cocaine, 26.2 percent to meth. Sources: National Drug Threat Survey, 
National Drug Intelligence Center and the Alabama Department of Public Safety

Many drug enforcement officers are taking a close look at what Oklahoma has 
done to reduce the manufacture of methamphetamine.

Oklahoma lawmakers banned over-the-counter sales of Sudafed and other 
decongestants containing pseudo-ephedrine, which is used to produce meth. 
The law ordered that they be placed behind pharmacy counters.

The law went into effect in April 2004. In 10 months, law enforcement 
officials say it's working. Oklahoma officials said meth lab seizures are 
down 80 percent.

Oklahoma drug agents say the state averaged 105 meth lab busts a month 
before the law went into effect.

By November, they said, the number had dropped significantly.

Drug enforcement agents in Alabama say they are impressed.

"I see that this is something that could help stop the production of meth 
here," said Curtis Burns, director of the Colbert County Drug Task Force. 
"Now, Alabama doesn't have any law governing a drug with ephedrine or 

"There are over-the-counter medicines that contain these drugs, and that is 
the major component in the manufacturing of meth. Without easy access to 
those ingredients, some meth-makers would be out of business."

There are 20 states looking at adopting a law like Oklahoma's.

"I'd like to see something like that take place in Alabama," said state 
Sen. Roger Bedford, D-Russellville. "Anything we can do to stop this 
epidemic of crystal meth that is becoming a cancer in our state, we need 
to. I think we should look at something like this. I want to support every 
effort we can to stop this problem."

State Rep. Marcel Black, D-Muscle Shoals, said the meth problem is 
something that needs to be "met head on."

"Banning an otherwise legal medication is something we'd want to take a 
real close look at, but with the meth problem there is, anything bears 
taking a look at."

While methamphetamine may not be as big a problem in Alabama as in some 
states, state drug officials say it is on the rise.

"Five years ago, there was no meth in Alabama," said Tom Gorree, an 
official with the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs with 
drug task forces in the state. "That's not the case anymore. We fund 33 
drug task forces in the state, and from July 2003 to June 2004, we seized 
14,651 grams of meth."

According to the Alabama Department of Public Safety, 289 meth labs were 
found in the state in 2003.

In 1999, there were only 30 labs busted, and in 2000, there were 82.

"We're seeing more and more manufacturing of meth and possession of meth 
cases coming through our court system," said Franklin County District 
Attorney Joey Rushing. "We've even seen driving while under the influence 
cases where the suspect is under the influence of meth. It's a growing 

Gorree said there are several reasons for the increase in meth.

"A lot marijuana growers have changed over to manufacturing meth," Gorree 
said. "The reason is it's so easy to make, easy to conceal and the profit 
margin is higher."

Also, drug officers say the ingredients used in the manufacturing process 
are easily obtained.

"But the process is dangerous," Gorree said. "Mixing chemicals can cause an 
explosion. And the ones who are making this junk aren't usually rocket 
scientists. That's why you hear of meth labs blowing up."

Rushing said anything that can be used as a deterrent to meth production 
should be examined.

"Anytime we can control a contributing factor in the manufacturing of meth, 
it will help us fight this problem," said Bobby Blaylock, chief deputy of 
the Marion County Sheriff's Office.

Added Burns, "The more we can do to make it difficult for dealers to get 
the ingredients needed in the manufacturing process, the better our efforts 
can be in fighting the war on meth."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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